Ray Rice is one of the best running backs available in 2012 fantasy football drafts Credit:Patrick Smith/Getty Images
WASHINGTON (WUSA9) -- The Baltimore Ravens had their first off day from Training Camp Tuesday.
It's usually non-stop for these players so this gave them a chance to catch up on things like checking emails, phone messages and even social media.
Ravens Running Back Ray Rice made a startling discovery Tuesday morning when checking his Facebook messages. Apparently a young kid messaged Rice, saying he would take his own life unless Rice responded to him.
Rice posted this message on Facebook:
"People - especially kids and teens - LISTEN TO ME CAREFULLY!! it's training camp time and I'm really not able to check my messages for a while. One just caught my eye about someone needing to talk or they were thinking about taking their life. Please do NOT, I REPEAT...DO NOT think that I am the answer!! I am NOT a counselor and do not know anything about depression, etc. If you are feeling like you want to take your life, do NOT write to ME - I am NOT qualified to help! I am just a football player. PLEASE CALL 1(800) SUICIDE. Being an advocate for something is one thing, being able to provide counseling and actual help is quite different!!! "
WUSA9 reached out to Rice after reading this. He said he did respond to the message
"When I got the message I did respond with a resource phone number for him to contact someone to get help. We happened to have a light day today, otherwise, I wouldn't have been checking messages at all," he said in a statement.
Rice is a rare breed of celebrity in that he actually still manages his Facebook page and personally reads the messages he gets. However, he felt this particular one needed to be addressed publicly.
"When I get emails from kids or teens saying they are contemplating taking their lives, I have a moment of panic where I check the date and time on the message and hope I'm not "too late." As you can imagine, I get thousands of messages a week. I try to do a good job of having my team help me address messages and filter them out to the right people for foundation requests and things like that. I suppose I could give my Facebook page over to my assistant to handle altogether, but I enjoy interacting with fans myself. But these types of messages strike a fear in me like no other. There is also a sadness I feel, just being a parent. I can't imagine what it would be like for my daughter to reach out to a professional athlete rather than coming to talk to me as her parent. It makes me hurt for the parents and the kids. Sometimes I just shake my head and wonder why people put that kind of pressure on me. I mean, this is life and death. That's not something I'm qualified to handle. Sometimes I think people have trouble distinguishing the difference between me being an advocate for something...anti-bullying or suicide prevention...and actually being someone who has all the answers. I definitely do not have the answers. All I have is a voice, and I'm committed to using that to raise awareness," the statement read.
Rice says he realizes young kids look up to him, idolize him. It comes with the territory of being a professional athlete and in the public eye. However, he wants kids to know athletes are just human too. Like he said in his Facebook post, they're not therapists or shrinks.
The statement continued, "It's such a mixed blessing to be looked up to as a professional athlete. In some cases, like this one, it's downright scary. Some kids think professional athletes have all the answers or that they are some kind of super heroes, which just isn't true at all. We are regular people. I put my pants on one leg at a time like everyone else. Sometimes, it's cool - like when we can use football to help inspire kids to be active and fit, to try and achieve their dreams and things like that. There is this one little girl I met about 2 years ago. She is about 7 or 8 and looks up to be as a role model. She helps to bake cupcakes to take when I go to feed the homeless and she recently decided she wanted to play tackle football with the boys. That's awesome that she looks up to me for inspiration for things like that. There is a big difference between role model and idol. I don't want to be anyone's idol. I do want to be a role model and inspire people."
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